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Community needs website to roll out in July

From left, Jackie Ryan, vice president of corporate strategy at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, goes over data collected on low birthweight babies in the region with Mark Miller, an analyst at the hospital, during a community benefits meeting Monday. Such data have been collected over the course of several months for the preparation of a community needs assessment.

From left, Jackie Ryan, vice president of corporate strategy at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, goes over data collected on low birthweight babies in the region with Mark Miller, an analyst at the hospital, during a community benefits meeting Monday. Such data have been collected over the course of several months for the preparation of a community needs assessment.

ALBANY, Ga. -- In order to best determine where funds ought to be allocated, the Community Benefits Committee at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is actively working on constructing a community needs assessment plan.

As part of a new requirement from the Internal Revenue Service, the hospital has until July 31, 2013 to complete such an assessment, which must then be done every three years in order to avoid a $50,000 fine.

An internal team is in place gathering data from various entities, a process that has been ongoing for six months, said Jackie Ryan, vice president of corporate strategy at Phoebe.

"We are bringing in data to determine where our needs are," she said. "We will then go before the board and see where the priorities are (and where to put emphasis)."

One such entity that has participated is Albany Area Primary Health Care, whose numbers reflect that the provider had 20,000 patient visits in 2011 related to hypertension, according to a presentation given at the committee's Monday meeting.

Data are also being compiled to determine where gaps are regarding health care needs. Such areas include child and adolescent services, and mental health services for expectant mothers, officials say.

Mark Miller, an analyst at Phoebe, presented a table constructed to give a visual on which areas have the highest concentration of low birthweight babies over a five-county area in Southwest Georgia.

The color-coded table showed a "hot spot" in central Albany.

Such data are expected to be accessible via a link on Phoebe's online homepage, www.phoebeputney.com, in early July, Ryan said.

The benefit plan the IRS requires to be in place is expected to be board-approved and address prioritized health needs and problems identified in the assessment.

In the meantime, Phoebe Community Visions, the grant-funding arm of the Community Benefits Committee, is preparing to begin its first cycle of grant applications.

The grants, set to be given out to various agencies as a means of addressing health-related needs, will start its first cycle of applications in September. Prior to that, a community seminar session will be held in August to educate potential recipients on the application process and what the expectations for the funding would be.

Such seminars will be held prior to each application cycle. After September, the next opportunity to apply for a grant will be in March, Ryan said.

"This is for nonprofits to request funds for seed money and (establish a project to address health-related needs)," Ryan said. "This is not for operational costs. (The use for the money) has to align with the needs of the assessment parameters."

With the completion of Phoebe's needs assessment still several months out, the first cycle will be catered to organizations the hospital has been funding previously.

"After the assessment is complete (in 2013), the alignment (with the needs assessment) will be tighter," Ryan said.

A list provided at the meeting shows where program funding went in Fiscal Year 2012 through Phoebe Community Visions. The largest sums went to Move the Mountain -- for Strive2Thrive -- at $50,000. More than $14,000 went to the annual women's health fair, while $12,575.83 went to the annual men's health fair.

GraceWay Recovery Residence, the Darton College Foundation, Albany-Dougherty National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Cancer Society were among the other recipients.

The next meeting of the Community Benefits Committee is set for 9 a.m. on Aug. 20 at a to-be-determined location.